St. Francis Investigates Racist Comments During Virtual Mass

St. Francis High School officials said they continue to investigate hate-filled, racist posts that were anonymously sent during the school’s livestreamed Mass last Thursday, noting that the administration is “heartbroken and embarrassed” and committed to identifying those responsible.
The school is engaged in addressing racism-related issues and raising awareness among all its constituents, officials added, though they said SFHS students are not believed to be responsible for the comments.
Staff, students and community members expressed dismay when, during the school’s worship, a stream of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic comments flooded the online chat function and were visible to participants in the virtual Mass.
“Two anonymous individuals utilized the program’s chat function to make racist, evil, hate-filled and destructive comments, specifically toward our African American, Jewish and homosexual brothers and sisters,” wrote SFHS President Father Tony Marti and Principal Thomas Moran in a letter sent to St. Francis families after the incident occurred. “Our administration is heartbroken and embarrassed that this happened.”
The letter continued: “These two individuals, hiding behind anonymity and using hateful words, desecrated the sacredness of our Holy Mass. While we cannot begin to understand their intentions or why they chose to do what they did, we certainly know the hurt their words caused in our community.”
On Tuesday, Marti told The Outlook Valley Sun that St. Francis administrators now believe that those responsible for the transmissions were not St. Francis students, but that the school continues to investigate. The school has also disabled the live chat option during streamed services going forward. It also recommended that anyone hurting from the incident reach out to the school’s director of diversity or their school counselor.
Andrew Burghdorf, St. Francis’ chief operating officer, said the incident was “awful,” and even though the offenders do not appear to be current students, “Nonetheless, the comments caused great pain within our community.”
He also noted that the school is actively engaging in dialogue with students regarding the incident and broader issues about racism.
“The necessary dialogue subsequently taking place clearly demonstrates that there remains an urgent need for continued conversation with our entire school community about racism, equality and justice,” Burghdorf wrote in an email. “We know that conversations about these issues can be uncomfortable, but they are necessary for progress. Ultimately, this has served to reinforce the magnitude of our mission and the significance of the Franciscan virtues we emphasize each quarter.”

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